Turbo Diesel 5-Spd Nirvana! 1999 BMW 525tds
Those of us in the land of the free will often bitch ‘n’ moan about the price of gas, particularly when it hits some arbitrary threshold — three dollars a gallon, I can get water for less! — but our friends across the pond have paid taxed through the roof fuel prices for decades. For this reason the luxury sedan buyers in the States made have paid more for a big monster 4.0 liter V8 in his E39 generation 5-series, but the European buyer would have opted instead for the 2.5 liter turbo diesel with manual gearbox. Find this 1999 BMW 525tds offered for $10,900 in Lancaster, OH via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
The E39 chassis was an interesting transitional generation for BMW’s executive class steering systems– the V8s were stuck with a reduction box steering but the inline-6s got a rack-and-pinion which gave far better feedback and road feel. Otherwise, the E39 is one of those cars that feels solidly assembled even with 250k miles on the chassis. On the scale of 2000 Nissan Altima to W123 Benz the E39 is squarely in the Benz side of the gauge.
Powering the 525tds is a 2.5 liter M51D25TU OL turbocharged and intercooled diesel inline-6 that produces 141 horsepower and 210 ft-lbs of torque into a 5-speed manual tranny. The M51 engine isn’t as advanced (or free from the clackity clack) as modern diesels, but it should be easier to work on and is free of exhaust treatment devices (and their potentially wallet emptying issues).
Even the interior is in decent shape in this E39, frankly the biggest issue to a surfer like myself is that it would never get past the CA Smogestapo.
See a better grey market oil burner for cheap? Send it here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sigh…. if ever there was a misguided incentive program, it was the pan-European subsidies to diesels. Everyone conveniently turned a blind eye to the deadly reality of diesel particulate emissions. In a way, VW's Diesel-gate may prove to be their best contribution to saving lives. Here are a couple of articles on the subject:
I have to agree with you 100%. Diesel is the fuel of Satan.
Seems like most of the daily driven cars in Germany are diesel.
Each time I was on the autobahn for an extended period of time (in the passenger seat unfortunately) I would get a headache from all the diesels fumes.
On our trips to Europe oftentimes I'd get up in the morning 630ish and go for a run.
You're looking for side streets, because half a mile on most of the major thoroughfares in London, Cologne, Frankfurt et al will take a week off your life.
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The dreaded comment bounce strikes again.
For what it's worth, I've driven probably 20 E39s over the years and I've never thought that the ZF recirculating-ball box on the V8s was noticeably worse than the rack and pinion on the smaller-engine cars. While in general I agree that rack-and-pinion is preferable, the E32/E34/E38/E39 V8 steering box is one of the best of its breed.
To some extent I think it's a function of tire size – bigger tires add numbness to any form of steering, and most of the V8 cars had bigger tires than the 6-pot cars.
Chiming in re: a few comments above.
I'm in agreement that a diesel engine has no good reason to be in anything with sporting pretenses. But in a cruiser, a modern turbodiesel is great. We get almost 700 miles of range from our TDI wagon when driving from LA to the Bay Area and back.
The E34 M5 has a steering box w/ the fancy Servotronic speed-sensitive assist. I don't have any complaints in the steering feel department, with 225s on the front wheels. Vince has a blind hatred of steering boxes!
FYI — it was Dave Coleman who called it a ball-n-sack steering system. I agree.
I always thought the difference between emissions regulations in the US and EU were two different methods. Europe does emissions per distance travelled while US does emissions by amount of fuel consumed and that's why we don't get the same engines. Is that correct or did someone lie to me?
maximus — it is more complicated than that. The US EPA uses a totally different test than all of the European countries used to use (and now what the EU uses) not just in how the cars are rated for emissions, but in what those tests look like, how the emissions are measured, how the cars are prepared & driven, and most importantly how the emissions are limited– it really is an apples and oranges issue. This info might be a few years old, but from my engine calibration work in the early 2000s the EU emissions gave diesels more latitude to produce more NOx emissions while the US required the same NOx limits across the board if you burned diesel, gas, CNG — which mean that the diesels were effectively banned from the US roads when some tiers of EPA emissions requirements hit. It is far more complicated than that, but that is the basic idea.
After hearing more about the testing due to dieselgate I figured as much. Thanks for the info